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Roads Laced with a Titanium Dioxide Could Reduce Pollution

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On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 4:15PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Roads Laced with a Titanium Dioxide Could Reduce Pollution

New research being done at the Eindhoven University of Technology (EUT), located in the Netherlands, may find a way to decrease air pollution, creating cleaner air for us to breathe, and for the environment.

It seems that researchers at EUT have discovered a method to efficiently remove up to 45% of the nitrogen oxides from car exhaust that end up in the atmosphere. The process of removal of the nitrogen oxides involves mixing titanium dioxide with concrete before pouring it onto the roadways. The titanium dioxide is a catalytic substance (which means that it helps to breakdown other elements), and it seizes the nitrogen oxides in the air, transforming them into nitrates which can be easily washed away by rain water.

Exposure to high levels of nitrogen oxides is known to cause damage the respiratory airways. Contact with the skin or eyes can actually cause burns. 

Nitrogen oxides are broken down rapidly in the atmosphere by reacting with other substances commonly found in the air. The reaction of nitrogen dioxide with chemicals produced by sunlight leads to the formation of nitric acid, which is a major constituent of acid rain. Nitrogen dioxide reacts with sunlight, which leads to the formation of ozone and smog conditions in the air we breathe.

Nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide have been found in at least nine ofthe over 1,500substances on the national priorities list which has been identified as hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Testing was done in the Netherlands on a 1,000 meter section of repaved roadway and the results showed that the nitrogen oxides were reduced by up to 25-45% as compared to regular concrete that was not mixed with the titanium dioxide.

Researchers at EUT also carried out three air-purity tests recently, at lengths of between a half and one-and-a-half meters over the area paved with air-purifying concrete and the nitrogen oxide content was found to 25 to 45% lower than that over the area paved with normal concrete. Further measurements are planned later this year

Jos Brouwers, professor of building materials at the EUT, stated, "The air-purifying properties of the new paving stones had already been shown in the laboratory, but these results now show that they also work outdoors."

Although the concrete roads that are mixed with the pollution-reducing chemicals cost 50% more for the materials than regular cement, there is no extra expense involved in the process of laying the new cement. Despite the extra cost, the advantages of utilizing the titanium dioxide are obvious.




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